Colour & Light Fill the Town

In the early hours of Sunday morning, teams of people arrived at Aylesbury’s Discover Bucks Museum. Armed with garlands of flowers, popcorn machines, henna, drums and more, they completed the final decorations and preparations for the Festival of Lights event.

A Warm Welcome to All

As the gates opened, visitors were greeted by a life-sized mechanical elephant in the courtyard. Now, that’s a sight you don’t see every day! Inside, there was a colourful trail with displays of fabrics, lanterns, costumes and rangoli floor decorations. All this was in addition to the coins, ammonites, wildlife and ceramics in the Museum’s permanent collection.

Aylesbury’s Festival of Lights is a celebration of Diwali, however, this is an inclusive community event. A warm welcome was offered to visitors of all ages and backgrounds. It is such a pleasure to share the traditions and delights of Indian culture and build community connections.

Showcasing Amazing Talent

Out in the garden, the event commenced with an opening prayer, led by Arsha Dipa. This kicked off a full programme of wonderful dance and music performances. What a joy to see such amazing talent! We were treated to traditional Indian dances, energetic Bollywood moves and rhythmic Dhol drumming. The energy from that stage was uplifting.

All guests were encouraged to join in and learn a few steps. On a chilly November day, this proved a brilliant way to keep warm!

Activities weren’t limited to dancing and music. Visitors were invited to create paper lanterns with Festive Road, get dressed up in a sari and taste Indian tea. Intricate henna designs and face paints were applied and rangoli patterns were coloured in. Some visitors took part in a yoga session led by Art of Living, while others sent prayers with a tealight on a bamboo boat.

Delicious samosas, masala chai and Indian street food ensured everyone was well-fed throughout the afternoon.

Stunning Attire

How wonderful to see so many people dressed in stunning outfits. The rich colours, beautiful fabrics and sparkles were marvellous! Thank you to everyone for making such an effort and braving the cold to dance in traditional costume.

Other prestigious outfits were worn by some of our VIP guests. Countess Howe wore her smart Lord Lieutenant uniform. Cllr Steven Lambert, Mayor of Aylesbury was dressed in civic regalia.

Dr Padmesh Gupta from sponsors Oxford Business College looked exceptional in his attire. It was a pleasure to accompany these visitors and share the traditions, sights, sounds and tastes of India.

Bowled Over by the Turn Out

Hosting a November event is always a risk – rain can threaten to stop play! Fortunately, the weather was better than forecast. However, there was another potential threat to attracting visitors this year. That was the Cricket World Cup, with India facing Australia in the final.

With so many avid fans in our community, this could have greatly impacted numbers, but we were bowled over by the turnout. Thanks to the loan of a scoreboard from Aylesbury Town Cricket Club, we were able to keep everyone updated. India winning would have led to even more celebrations, however, on this occasion, it wasn’t to be. Congratulations to Australia.

Light Parade & Fire Show

At 4.30pm, event organiser Poonam and her husband Avi were encouraged to embark on a ride aboard the amazing elephant. They were followed by Dhol drummers and a parade of visit

ors and hosts carrying lanterns and lights through the streets of Old Aylesbury. Everyone gathered in the Market Square to watch the fire dancing and pyrotechnic show. What an impressive and memorable finale!

A dedicated Team

Aylesbury Festival of Lights is led by Poonam Gupta and the Holy Cow Community Trustees. It would not be possible without enthusiastic sponsors, volunteers and partnerships, who have worked tirelessly to pull everything together and make this an occasion to be proud of.

Thank you to Discover Bucks Museum for providing a perfect venue and a hard-working and accommodating team. They hosted lantern-making workshops in advance of the day and helped so much with the organisation. Special mention to Hannah and Darina from the Bucks Heroes project.

Trustees Julia and Prashy, along with our sponsors have given considerable time and money to make the event possible. We need to thank George and Kirsty Anson, the William Harding Trust, Oxford Business College, Rothschild Foundation for their financial support. We thank Andy at Hello Photo for documenting the event and can not wait to see the video and photos. Britponds sponsored the tealight boats, Blue Pepper Printing provided our flyers and Sainsbury’s donated milk and sugar for the chai masala.

In addition, around 50 volunteers gave their time to help with the setup, running of activities, parade logistics, making tea and keeping everything running smoothly. Thank you so much for your positive energy and commitment. We cannot mention you all, but appreciate the support of many members of Aylesbury Hindu Temple, Hindu Swayamsevak Sangh Aylesbury, Arsha Dipa and the local community.

Get Involved!

Did you enjoy attending? If so, we’ll be back in 2024, so keep posted and bring your friends and family along! Equally, we are always looking to build the team that makes this happen. Can you join us as a volunteer, trustee or sponsor? If so, we’d love to hear from you.

For now, carry that colour and light in your heart to brighten up the winter days!